Eastern Region Viewing Area
Cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata). Photo by John Williams.
Fern-leaved false foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia var. intercedens). Photo by Alice Schori.
Cliffs and climber at Rumney Rocks, New Hampshire. Photo by Christopher Mattrick.
Rumney Rocks and Rattlesnake Mountain
Region: Eastern Region
Forest: White Mountain National Forest
District: Pemigewassett Ranger District
Description: Rumney Rocks is a popular rock climbing area on the White Mountain National Forest in Rumney, New Hampshire. The area is located slopes of Rattlesnake Mountain on the Pemigewassett Ranger District. In addition to this being a destination for regional rock climbers, it is rare plant hotspot containing no less than a dozen state and regionally rare plant species, and several distinct and uncommon natural communities. Despite being one of the most heavily visited recreation sites on the White Mountain National Forest, the plant communities are some of the most diverse on the Forest and new populations of rare species continue to be found with surprising frequency.
Wildflower Viewing: Numerous fires have taken place at Rattlesnake over the past 50 years, mostly as a result of human influences. These repeated fire occurrences have fostered the development of a de-facto fired adapted eco-system on the upper ledges and summit of the mountain. As a result a community of fire adapted, if not dependent species such as the rare Douglas' knotweed (Polygonum douglasii), piled-up sedge (Carex cumulata), and the more common fern-leaved false foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia var. intercedens) has developed. These populations wane, if not almost completely disappear in the years between fires, but in the year or two following fire events the population numbers increase exponentially.
The lower mountain slopes contain montane circumneutral cliffs, which tower over rich mesic forests and provide opportunity for both climbers and plant lovers to pursue their passion. The cliffs are dotted with harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum), path rush (Juncus tenuis), a variety of lichens and mosses, and the rare fragrant fern (Dryopteris fragrans). The forested areas below the cliff are majestic and littered with talus slopes and large boulders. The forests here are generally enriched and contain many wonderful common and rare species including maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), red trillium (Trillium erectum), and if you find the right spot, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).
Safety First: Rumney Rocks is easy to find and many areas of the mountain can be accessed by the Rattlesnake Mountain trail leading to the summit or a variety of other maintained trails leading to rock climbing locations. Travel off these trails can be difficult due to the uneven nature of the hillside and areas of talus. Off trail travel is discouraged.
Directions: To find Rumney Rocks take exit 26 off Interstate 93 in Plymouth, NH and follow route 25 west. Once you enter the Town of Rumney, New Hampshire, (about 5 minutes after exiting the highway), turn right at the flashing yellow light onto Main Street. Proceed approximately 1 mile and turn left onto Buffalo Road. Rumney Rocks climbing area has two parking lots on the right hand side of the road approximately 1 mile from this intersection. The trailhead to Rattlesnake Mountain is approximately another 1.5 miles past these parking areas.
For more information please contact the White Mountain National Forest Headquarters at 603-536-6100.
Nearest Town: Rumney, New Hampshire.